Nu metal

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This article is about a genre of music. For the nickel-iron alloy, see Mu-metal.

Nu metal (also known as nü-metal and aggro-metal) is a form of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk and grunge. Nu metal is part of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.

Nu metal bands have drawn elements and influences from a variety of musical styles, including multiple genres of heavy metal. Nu metal rarely features guitar solos; it is heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs. Many nu metal guitarists use seven-string guitars that are down-tuned to play a heavier sound. DJs are also sometimes featured for using rhythmic scratching and electronic backgrounds. Vocal styles in nu metal include singing, rapping, screaming and growling.

At the time of the release of Korn's 1996 album Life is Peachy, the popularity of nu metal was beginning to grow, and broke into the mainsteam in 1998. In the late 1990s, some bands were blending nu metal with other music genres. For example, industrial metal elements were incorporated into the music of Static-X and Dope. In 2002, MTV wrote that nu metal's popularity was declining, but nu metal still had mainstream success. During the mid-2000s, nu metal lost popularity and metalcore became one of the most popular genres within the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. During this period, classic rock-inspired bands and emo bands grew in popularity and exceeded the declining popularity of nu metal. Also during this period, many nu metal experimented with other genres and sounds, or in some cases, changed their sound altogether.

Characteristics and fashion[edit]

Tim Grierson of wrote that "Falling Away From Me" showed hip-hop influence through the use of staccato rhythms, textured guitar hooks, and distorted power chords.[1]

"Choke" is a song by the band Kittie and is on their album Spit. The album is a nu metal album[2] that features elements of genres such as death metal,[3][4] hip hop[2] and alternative rock.[5]

Citing the lyrics to its chorus, Karan Pradhan of Firstpost called Slipknot's "Surfacing" the "best encapsulation of the aggression, attitude, simplicity and indeed, the spirit of nü metal".[6]

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Nu metal is also known as nü-metal[7][8] and aggro-metal.[9][10] Considered a form of alternative metal,[9] nu metal merges elements of heavy metal[9][11][12] with elements of other music genres such as grunge, hip hop, funk and alternative rock.[9][13][14][15][16]

Nu metal bands have been influenced by and have used elements of a variety of musical genres, including electronic music, funk, grunge, gothic rock, hardcore punk, death metal, hip hop, punk rock, dance music, new wave music, industrial metal, jazz, post-punk, symphonic rock and synthpop.[9][11][15][17][18][18][19] Nu metal bands also are influenced by and use elements of genres of heavy metal music such as death metal, rap metal, groove metal, funk metal, alternative metal and thrash metal.[9][11][15][20] Some nu metal bands such as Static-X[21] and Dope[22] made nu metal music with elements of industrial metal.

Nu metal music is heavily syncopated and is based on guitar riffs.[8] Mid-song bridges and a general lack of guitar solos contrasts it with other genres of heavy metal.[8][23] Kory Grow of Revolver wrote, " ... [i]n its efforts to tune down and simplify riffs, nu-metal effectively drove a stake through the heart of the guitar solo".[24] Another contrast with other heavy metal genres is nu metal's emphasis on rhythm, rather than on complexity or mood, often its rhythm sounds like that of groove metal.[11] The wah pedal is occasionally featured in nu metal music.[24] Nu metal guitar riffs occasionally are similar to death metal guitar riffs.[20] Nu metal bassists and drummers are often influenced by funk and hip hop break beats, respectively, adding to the genre's rhythmic nature.[25][26] Blast beats, which are common in heavy metal subgenres such as black metal and death metal, are extremely rare in nu metal.[27] Similarities with many heavy metal subgenres include its use of common time, distorted guitars, power chords and note structures primarily revolving around Dorian, Aeolian or Phrygian modes.[8]

Some nu metal bands use seven-string guitars[28] that are generally down-tuned,[27][29] rather than traditional six-string guitars.[15] This results in bass guitarists using five-string and six-string instruments.[15][30] Bass guitar-playing in nu metal often features an emphasis on funk elements.[28] DJs also are sometimes featured to provide additional rhythmic instrumentation such as music sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds.[15] Nu metal tends to have hip hop grooves and rhythms.[23][20][28]

Nu metal is noted for the participation of female musicians, in contrast with many other heavy metal subgenres;[31] Kittie is an all-female band[32] and there is at least one female member in nu metal bands such as Coal Chamber[33] and Otep.[34]

Korn's bassist Reginald Arvizu showing nu metal fashion with baggy cargo pants, a baggy shirt and dreadlocks.

Vocal styles used in nu metal music include singing, rapping, screaming and growling.[23][20][27][35] Vocals in nu metal are often rhythmic and influenced by hip hop.[36] Lyrics in nu metal songs are often angry or nihilistic;[20] many of the genre's lyrics focus on topics such as pain, angst, bullying, emotional torture, abandonment, betrayal, and personal alienation, in a way similar to those of grunge.[15][6][18][23][28][35][37] Many nu metal lyrics about these topics tend to be in a very direct tone.[28] However, some nu-metal songs have lyrics that are about other topics. P.O.D. have used positive lyrics about promise and hope.[38] The nu metal[39] song "Bodies" by Drowning Pool is about moshing.[40] Wayne Swinny of Saliva said the band's song "Badass" was "meant to be one of those 'sports anthem kind of songs' ".[41] The Michigan Daily wrote about Limp Bizkit's lyrics, writing that the band "used the nu-metal sound as a way to spin testosterone fueled fantasies into snarky white-boy rap. Oddly, audiences took frontman Fred Durst more seriously than he wanted, failing to see the intentional silliness in many of his songs".[28] Limp Bizkit's lyrics also have been described as "misogynistic".[42] Dope's lyrics are usually about sex, drugs, parties, women, violence and relationships.[43] In contrast with other heavy metal subgenres, Nu metal tends to use the same structure of verses, choruses and bridges as those in pop music.[20][27][44]

Nu metal bands occasionally feature hip hop musicians as guests in their songs; Korn's song "Children of the Korn" features the rapper Ice Cube, who performed on the band's 1998 Family Values Tour.[45][46] The hip hop musician Nas was featured on Korn's song "Play Me", which is on the band's album Take a Look in the Mirror.[47] Limp Bizkit has recorded with multiple hip hop musicians including Method Man,[48] Lil Wayne,[49] Xzibit,[50] Redman,[50] DMX[51] and Snoop Dogg.[52] Linkin Park collaborated with hip hop musician Jay Z on their 2004 extended play Collision Course.[53] Kid Rock has recorded with hip hop musicians Eminem[54] and Snoop Dogg.[55] Trevor Baker of The Guardian wrote, "Bands such as Linkin Park, Korn and even the much reviled Limp Bizkit ... did far more to break down the artificial barriers between 'urban music' and rock than any of their more critically acceptable counterparts. Their concerts also drew huge numbers of women, which is much more than you could say for any old-metal band."[56]

Nu metal fashion consists of baggy pants,[24][57][58][59] shirts, and shorts,[23][60] JNCO jeans,[61][62] Adidas tracksuits,[62] sports jerseys,[63] baseball caps,[64] baggy hoodies,[59] cargo pants, sweatpants, dreadlocks,[65] wallet chains,[23][63][66] spiky hair,[57][63] chin beards,[58][65] tattoos,[23][60][66] bald heads,[65][66] goatees,[65] frosted tips, bleached or dyed hair,[57][65] and piercings,[23][24][60][65] especially facial piercings.[59][66] Nu metal fashion has been compared to hip hop fashion.[24] Some nu metal bands such as Motograter,[67] Mushroomhead,[68] Mudvayne[69][70], Hollywood Undead[71] , and Slipknot[66][72] wear masks, jumpsuits, costumes, face paint, corpse paint or body paint.

Predecessors and influences[edit]

Pantera circa 2000.

Alternative metal, industrial, funk metal, alternative rock, experimental metal, rap metal, grunge and industrial metal music of the 1980s and 1990s has been credited with laying groundwork for the development of nu metal by combining heavy guitar riffs with pop music structures, and drawing influences from subgenres of heavy metal and other genres. Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction, Primus, Rage Against the Machine, Helmet, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry have all been highlighted as examples of this.[73][74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82]

Groove metal and thrash metal bands of the same era such as Pantera,[83][84] Slayer,[85] Sepultura,[81][86] Metallica[12][85] and Anthrax[85] have also been cited as influential to nu metal. For example, Anthrax pioneered the rap metal genre by combining hip hop and rap with heavy metal on their 1987 EP I'm the Man,[87] which laid groundwork for nu metal's development.[64] Korn's lead vocalist Jonathan Davis said about Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, "if there was no Dimebag Darrell, there would be no Korn".[88] Tool, a band cited as influential to nu metal,[89] influenced several nu metal bands, such as Deftones,[90] Mudvayne,[91] Limp Bizkit,[92] and Otep.[93]

The hip hop group Beastie Boys are very influential on nu metal.[94] Hip hop musicians Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have been a big influence on nu metal pioneers Korn;[95][96] guitarist Munky said the band were trying to emulate the samples of Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic.[96] Munky and fellow Korn guitarist Head also said they tried to emulate samples by hip hop group Cypress Hill,[95][97] which together with Geto Boys and N.W.A have been a major influence on Korn.[97] Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit has cited the hip hop group The Fat Boys as a major influence on him.[98]


Early development and rise (early–mid 1990s)[edit]

Joel McIver acknowledged the nu metal pioneers Korn as starting the New Wave of American Heavy Metal,[99] which is a heavy metal music movement that started in the 1990s.[100][101][102] The aggressive riffs of Korn, the rapping of Limp Bizkit, and the acoustic ballads of Staind created the sonic template for nu metal.[89] The origins of the term nu metal are often attributed to the work of producer Ross Robinson, who has been called "The Godfather of Nu Metal".[75] Robinson has produced for nu metal bands such as Korn,[103] Limp Bizkit[104] and Slipknot.[105][106] Many of the first nu metal bands such as Korn, who are identified as the pioneers of the nu metal sound with the release of their demo album Neidermayer's Mind in 1993,[99] and the Deftones, came from California.[107][108] Other notable nu metal bands are Staind from Massachusetts,[109] Limp Bizkit from Florida[89] and Slipknot from Iowa.[110] In the book Brave Nu World, Tommy Udo wrote about the nu metal band Coal Chamber, "There's some evidence to suggest that Coal Chamber were the first band to whom the tag 'nu metal' was actually applied, in a live review in Spin magazine."[111]

Korn's song "Blind" is from the band's self-titled debut album.[112] The album, which is widely considered the first nu metal album, was called "the most important metal record of the last 20 years" by Christopher R. Weingarten of Rolling Stone in 2014.[95]

"Headup" by Deftones features Max Cavalera and was described by Decibel as Around the Fur's "most nü-metal track".[62]

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In 1994, Korn released their self-titled debut album, which is widely considered the first nu metal album.[113][95][114] Korn had experienced underground popularity at this time; their debut album peaked at number 72 on the Billboard 200.[115] Nu metal continued to achieve recognition through MTV and Ozzy Osbourne's 1995 introduction of Ozzfest, which led the media to talk of a resurgence of heavy metal.[116] Ozzfest was integral to the launching of the careers of several nu metal bands, including Limp Bizkit in 1998.[117] Sepultura incorporated elements of nu metal into their 1996 album Roots,[86][118] which was inspired by Korn's self-titled debut album.[119][120] Roots was influential on the nu metal scene that followed in its wake.[86] Few bands were playing nu metal until 1997 when Snot,[121] Coal Chamber,[122] Limp Bizkit,[123] Papa Roach[124] and Sevendust[125] all released their debut albums.

Nu metal was beginning to rise in popularity when Korn's 1996 album Life Is Peachy peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200[115][126] and sold 106,000 copies in its first week of being released.[127] Korn's albums Life is Peachy and Korn were both certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in November 1999.[128] In 1997, Deftones released their album Around the Fur, which peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200, remained there for 17 weeks and sold 43,000 copies in its first week of release.[129][130] Deftones' albums Around the Fur and Adrenaline both were certified gold in 1999.[131] In 1997, Sugar Ray broke into the mainstream; their album Floored was released in 1997 and went double-platinum in less than one year.[132][133] Coal Chamber's self-titled album peaked at number 10 on the Top Heatseekers chart in 1998[134] and was certified gold by the RIAA in December 1999, with at least 500,000 copies sold in the United States.[131]

Mainstream popularity (late 1990s and early 2000s)[edit]

Korn (pictured) helped launch nu metal into the mainstream.

1998 is generally recognized as the year when nu metal broke into the mainstream when Korn's third album, Follow the Leader, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200,[115] became a multi-platinum hit,[128] and paved the way for other nu metal bands.[56] At this point, many nu metal bands were signed to major record labels,[9] and were playing combinations of heavy metal, hip hop, industrial, grunge and hardcore punk styles.[9] Musical artists and groups such as Cypress Hill,[135] Sepultura,[86][118][136] Vanilla Ice,[136][137] Primus,[138][139] Fear Factory,[136][140] Machine Head,[141][142] and Slayer[143] released albums that draw from the nu metal genre. In Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, Ian Christie wrote that the genre demonstrated that "pancultural metal could pay off".[144]

In 1999, Korn's fourth studio album Issues peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200.[115][145] The album was certified 3x platinum in one month.[128] The album sold at least 573,000 copies in its first week of release[145] and its first single "Falling Away From Me" peaked at number 99 on the Billboard Hot 100.[146] A little before the album was released, Korn appeared on an episode of South Park titled "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", in which "Falling Away from Me" was premiered.[147][148] During the late 1990s and early 2000s, multiple nu metal bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. appeared constantly on MTV's Total Request Live.[149][150][151][152][153][154][155]

Limp Bizkit is known for playing nu metal music[156] with noticeable hip hop elements.[157]

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Woodstock 1999 festival featured multiple nu metal artists and bands such as Korn, Kid Rock, Godsmack, Limp Bizkit and Sevendust.[158][159][160] During and after Limp Bizkit's performance at the festival, violence occurred and people tore plywood from the walls during the performance of the band's song "Break Stuff".[161][162] Several sexual assaults were reported to have happened during the festival;[163] a rape that was said to have occurred during Limp Bizkit's performance and gang rape was reported to have occurred during Korn's set at the festival.[164] Limp Bizkit's vocalist Fred Durst said during his band's Woodstock 1999 concert, "People are getting hurt. Don't let anybody get hurt. But I don't think you should mellow out. That's what Alanis Morissette had you motherfuckers do. If someone falls, pick 'em up. We already let the negative energy out. Now we wanna let out the positive energy."[165] Durst was blamed for inciting violence at the festival.[166] In an interview about the Woodstock 1999 incident, Durst said, "I didn't see anybody getting hurt. You don't see that. When you're looking out on a sea of people and the stage is twenty feet in the air and you're performing, and you're feeling your music, how do they expect us to see something bad going on?"[165] Les Claypool, a member of the band Primus, told The San Francisco Examiner, "Woodstock was just Durst being Durst. His attitude is 'no press is bad press', so he brings it on himself. He wallows in it. Still, he's a great guy."[165] Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine referred to Woodstock 1999 as "the low point of nu metal".[166] Despite the incident at the festival, Limp Bizkit's popularity and the sales of their then-recent album Significant Other were not affected.[161]

The nu metal band Slipknot performing in Buenos Aires in 2005.

The nu metal band Orgy became popular in the late 1990s with their album Candyass, which was certified platinum by the RIAA.[131] The band's cover of "Blue Monday" by New Order peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100.[167] Godsmack's self-titled debut album was released in 1998 and was certified 4x platinum.[168] In April 1999, Kid Rock's album Devil Without a Cause was certified by gold by the RIAA.[169] The following month, Devil Without a Cause, as Kid Rock predicted, went platinum.[169] The album sold at least 9,300,000 copies in the United States[170] and was certified 11x platinum.[169] In 1999, Slipknot emerged with an extremely heavy sound, releasing their self-titled album, which has become their best-selling album, being certified 2x platinum.[171] Rick Anderson of Allmusic wrote, "You thought Limp Bizkit was hard? They're the Osmonds. These guys are something else entirely."[172] Limp Bizkit's second album Significant Other, released in 1999, reached number 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 643,874 copies in its first week of release.[173] In its second week, the album sold 335,000 copies.[173] Significant Other by Limp Bizkit sold at least 7,237,123 copies in the United States.[174]

Nu metal band[175] Disturbed's vocalist David Draiman said that Disturbed "never had the stereotypical attributes" that other nu metal bands had.[176]

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In 1999, Staind's second album Dysfunction was released; the track "Mudshovel" peaked at number 10 on the Mainstream Rock Chart.[177] Dysfunction was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA, selling two million copies in the United States.[178][179] In 2000, Limp Bizkit's third studio album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water set a record for highest week-one sales of a rock album, selling over one million copies in the United States in its first week of release—400,000 of which sold on its first day of release, making it the fastest-selling rock album ever and breaking the world record held for seven years by Pearl Jam's Vs.[180] Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water by Limp Bizkit sold at least 8,000,000 copies in the United States.[181] That same year, both Papa Roach's second studio album Infest and Disturbed's debut album The Sickness were certified platinum.[182] The RIAA certified The Sickness 4x platinum[183] and Infest 3x platinum.[184] Disturbed's song "Down with the Sickness" has been used as entrance music by the National Football League team Dallas Cowboys.[185] Papa Roach's song "Last Resort" peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.[186] In 2000, P.O.D.'s album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown went platinum in the United States[187] and was the 143rd best-selling album of 2000.[188] The album's song "Rock the Party (Off the Hook)" peaked at number 1 on MTV's Total Request Live.[189] In 2000, hip hop band Cypress Hill released their fifth studio album Skull & Bones, which featured a nu metal and rap metal style.[64][135] The album went platinum in the United States in two months.[190] During the early 2000s, the nu metal band Incubus[191][192][193][194][195][196] were very popular and made the albums Make Yourself and Morning View, which both were certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.[131]

Linkin Park in 2006.

Late in 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory, which is both the best-selling debut album by any artist in the 21st century and the best-selling nu metal album of all time.[197] The album was also the best-selling album of 2001,[198] selling more than albums Celebrity by NSYNC and Hot Shot by Shaggy.[199] Linkin Park earned a Grammy Award for their second single "Crawling".[200] Their fourth single, "In the End", was released late in 2001 and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2002.[201][202] In 2001, the band's album Hybrid Theory sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the highest-selling album of the year.[198][199] Linkin Park's album Hybrid Theory was certified diamond by the RIAA[203] and sold at least 10,222,000 copies in the United States.[204] In 2000, Snot released the album Strait Up, which is a tribute to Snot's former vocalist James Lynn Strait, who died in a car accident in December 1998.[205] The album features multiple nu metal musicians including Jonathan Davis, Fred Durst, Corey Taylor, Mark McGrath, Max Cavalera, Brandon Boyd, DJ Lethal and Dez Fafara.[205][206] The album peaked at number 56 on the Billboard 200.[207] In 2000, Godsmack released their second studio album Awake, which was certified 2x platinum.[168] The album's title track peaked at number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart[208] Both the album's title track and the song "Sick of Life" have been featured on the United States Navy's television commercials.[209]

Aaron Lewis, the vocalist of the nu metal band Staind, performing in August 2001.

Crazy Town broke into the mainstream with their hit song, "Butterfly", which peaked at number 1 on many charts including the Billboard Hot 100 during March 2001, remaining on the chart for 23 weeks.[210][211] It also peaked at number 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and the Hot Dance Single Sales chart, number 6 on the Rhythmic Top 40, number 2 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and number 4 on the Top 40 Tracks chart.[212] The band's album The Gift of Game peaked at number 9 on the Billbioard 200,[212] went platinum[213] and sold at least 1,500,000 copies in the United States.[214] Worldwide, the album sold more than 2.5 million units.[215] Staind's 2001 album Break the Cycle debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200[177] with at least 716,000 copies sold in its first week of release,[109][216] selling more than albums such as Survivor by Destiny's Child, Lateralus by Tool and Miss E… So Addictive by Missy Elliot.[216][217] In March 2001, Saliva released their second album Every Six Seconds and the album was certified platinum.[218] The album's song "Click Click Boom" was used as a theme song for WWF No Mercy[219] and WWE No Way Out.[220] "Click Click Boom" also has been used during football games.[41] Saliva's song "Your Disease" peaked at number 7 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.[221]

In 2001, Slipknot released their album Iowa, which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200[222] and went platinum.[223] Critic John Mulvey called the album the "absolute triumph of nu metal".[224] At the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, Mudvayne's nu metal[225] song "Dig" won the MTV2 Award,[226] beating the commercially successful song "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys.[227] The song "Dig" by Mudvayne received a lot of on-air rotation.[228] P.O.D.'s 2001 album Satellite went triple-platinum[229] and peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200.[230] P.O.D.'s popularity continued in the year 2002.[231] On June 5, 2001,[232] Drowning Pool released a nu metal album[233] titled Sinner, which featured the song "Bodies".[234] The album went platinum on August 23, 2001[232] and "Bodies" became one of the most frequently played videos for new bands on MTV.[235] "Bodies" peaked at number 6 on the Mainstream Rock chart[236] and was played on WWE.[235][237] "Bodies" also was used by Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon as his theme song.[238]

Alien Ant Farm's 2001 album Anthology, which has been described as nu metal,[239] peaked at number 1 on the Top Heatseekers chart[240] and included a cover of Michael Jackson's song "Smooth Criminal".[239] Alien Ant Farm's cover of "Smooth Criminal" peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.[240] The album Anthology by Alien Ant Farm was certified platinum by the RIAA in the year it was released in.[241] In 2002, the soundtrack album for the film The Scorpion King was released and peaked at number 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart;[242] it features several nu metal bands such as Drowning Pool, Coal Chamber, Lifer, Sevendust, Flaw and Godsmack.[243] Godsmack's track "I Stand Alone" was the most played Active rock song in 2002 for 14 consecutive weeks.[244] "I Stand Alone" also peaked at number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.[208] In March 2002, the compilation album Now That's What I Call Music! 9 was released.[245] It included "Giving In" by the nu metal band Adema;[245] the album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200[246] and was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.[247]

In 2002, MTV wrote that nu metal's mainstream popularity was declining,[248] citing that Korn's long-awaited fifth album Untouchables and Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy both sold less than the bands' previous releases.[248] Korn's lead vocalist Jonathan Davis blamed music piracy for the decline in sales Untouchables because the album had been leaked to the Internet more than four months before its official release date.[249][250] MTV also wrote that nu metal bands were played less frequently on radio stations and MTV began focusing other musical genres.[36][248] MTV wrote that Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy has less hip hop elements than the band's previous album Infest[248] and also said that Saliva's 2002 album Back into Your System has less hip hop elements than the band's 2001 album Every Six Seconds.[7] MTV also wrote that Crazy Town's second album Darkhorse had no hit singles and sold less than the band's previous album The Gift of Game.[7] MTV wrote that while Kid Rock's album Cocky had elements of the musician's 1998 album Devil Without a Cause, Cocky's song "Forever", which featured the style of Kid Rock's song "Bawitdaba", was not as popular as Cocky's country song "Picture".[7] MTV also wrote, "Another cause for nü-metal and rap-rock's slip from the spotlight could be a diluted talent pool caused by so many similar-sounding bands. American Head Charge, Primer 55, Adema, Cold, the Union Underground, Dope, Apartment 26, Hed (Planet Earth) and Skrape—all of whom released albums between 2000-2001—left more of a collective impression than individual ones".[7] Despite what MTV wrote, the RIAA certified Korn's album Untouchables platinum,[128] and one of the album's singles, "Here to Stay", peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Hot 100,[146] had a lot of radio play,[248] and peaked at number one on MTV's Total Request Live twice.[251] Untouchables sold at least 434,000 copies in first week of release and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200.[252][253] "Thoughtless", another single from the album, also proved to be very successful. The song reached number 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and number 6 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.[254] However, Untouchables still did not sell as many copies as Korn's most commercially successful album, Follow the Leader.[62][248] Papa Roach's song "She Loves Me Not" from the band's 2002 album Lovehatetragedy peaked at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100.[186]

Evanescence performing in 2003

Despite the decline in sales of bands such as Korn and Papa Roach, nu metal remained extremely popular with bands such as Linkin Park, Taproot, Godsmack, Trapt and Evanescence. Taproot's song "Poem" was popular in 2002 and peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.[255] Linkin Park's remix album Reanimation was released in July 2002[256] and sold more than a million copies that year, which MTV described as "impressive for a remix album".[231] Trapt's 2002 song "Headstrong" increased the band's popularity; the song peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100,[257] number 4 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart[258] and number 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.[259] "Still Frame" peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100.[257] The band's self-titled album was certified platinum in 2003 by the RIAA.[260] Evanescence's debut album Fallen was released in March 2003. Critics noted the nu metal sound of the album.[261][262] Fallen's Grammy Award-winning lead single "Bring Me to Life"[263][264] peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.[265] By the end of 2003, Fallen and Linkin Park's album Meteora ranked fourth and third respectively in the best-selling albums of 2003.[266] Both bands released high-charting singles throughout 2003 to mid-2004.[202][265] Fallen by Evanescence sold at least 7,600,000 copies in the United States.[267] In 2003, Korn released a song called "Did My Time", which peaked at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.[146] That same year, Godsmack released their third studio album Faceless, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200[268][269] and was certified platinum by the RIAA in its first five weeks of being released.[269]

Decline (mid–late 2000s)[edit]

The classic rock-inspired band Jet in 2004.

After a period of mainstream success of bands such as Trapt, Linkin Park and Evanescence, nu metal declined in popularity. Limp Bizkit's 2003 album Results May Vary, which features elements of alternative rock[270] and nu metal,[271] peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 and their cover version of The Who's song "Behind Blue Eyes" peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100[272] and number 25 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart.[273] However, the album sold less than previous Limp Bizkit albums Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.[274] Despite the album's song "Did My Time" peaking at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100, Korn's 2003 album Take a Look in the Mirror sold less than their previous albums Issues and Untouchables.[274] Korn struggled to prevent their album Take a Look in the Mirror being leaked to the Internet;[249] the band's bassist Reginald Arvizu said, "As soon as we were done listening to the CD, we destroyed it. We didn't go online with it. I think that's how [the leak] happened the last time."[249] Korn released Take a Look in the Mirror earlier than planned because some songs from the album, including "Right Now" and "Break Some Off", had already been leaked to the Internet.[275] In 2004, classic rock-inspired bands such as Jet and The Darkness were achieving mainstream success as the popularity of nu metal declined.[274] The popularity of emo exceeded the declining popularity of nu metal.[18] During the mid-2000s, metalcore, a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk, became one of the most popular genres in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.[276]

In the mid-to-late 2000s, many nu metal bands experimented with other genres and sounds. Linkin Park's third studio album Minutes to Midnight, released in 2007, was noted for its complete departure from the band's nu metal sound.[277] Nu metal bands such as Disturbed[278][279] and Drowning Pool[233] moved to a hard rock or standard heavy metal sound. Slipknot also departed from their nu metal sound[280] and included elements of groove metal, death metal and thrash metal into their music.[281][282] Staind and Papa Roach moved to lighter sounds.[283][284] Staind's 2003 album 14 Shades Of Grey does not express as much anger as the band's previous albums[285] and shows the band's departure from heavy metal elements and a movement towards a lighter sound.[286] Papa Roach abandoned the nu metal genre with their 2004 album Getting Away with Murder,[287] moving to a hard rock style.[288][289]

"Here's the deal: say in 2000, there were 35 million people who connected to this band. Twelve years later, lots of those people have moved on. We were a moment in time and it's over."

Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst on his band's decline in popularity.[290]

Soulfly moved away from the nu metal style[291][292][293] and moved to styles such as death metal[292] and thrash metal.[291][293] Kittie abandoned the nu metal style and started making music with elements of genres such as black metal and death metal.[294] Korn and Mudvayne maintained their popularity during the mid-2000s. Korn had popular hits with "Coming Undone" and "Twisted Transistor";[146] although they did not abandon the nu metal style, the band added industrial elements and moved onto a more commercially acceptable sound. Pop music producers The Matrix helped produce the band's 2005 album See You on the Other Side.[295] Mudvayne's 2005 album Lost and Found showed a change in the band's musical style.[296] The album's song "Happy?" peaked at number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 91 on Billboard's Pop 100.[297] In 2005, Limp Bizkit released a record called The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) without promoting and advertising the record.[298][299] The album was not very popular;[300] its sales fell 67% during its second week of release.[301] In 2006, Limp Bizkit went on hiatus.[299]

Fusion with other genres and slight comeback (2010s)[edit]

During the 2010s, there was a discussion within media of a possible nu metal revival because of bands fusing nu metal with other genres, the return of nu metal bands, extant bands going back to the nu metal genre and nu metal bands forming.[302][303][304][305][306] Despite the lack of radio play and popularity, some nu metal bands recaptured some of their former popularity as they released albums in a nu metal style. Korn's 2010 studio album Korn III: Remember Who You Are sold 63,000 copies during its first week of release and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200.[307] As of December 6, 2011, the album had sold at least 185,000 units in the United States.[308] Korn's vocalist Jonathan Davis said with their new album the band "want to go back to that old-school vibe".[309] He also said "It's gonna be very raw, it's gonna be old school like the first Korn records".[309]

Limp Bizkit members Fred Durst, Wes Borland and John Otto (in the background) in 2012.

In 2011, Limp Bizkit's long-awaited sixth studio album Gold Cobra was released; it sold 27,000 copies during its first week in the United States and peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 200.[310][311] That same year, Staind's self-titled album was released; it shows the band returning to their heavier nu metal style.[312] The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, selling 47,000 copies in its first week of release, making it the band's fifth consecutive top-five album.[313] In October 2011, Evanescence's self-titled album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and other United States charts and sold over 127,000 copies in the first week.[314] In December that year,[315] Korn released their album The Path of Totality, which sold 55,000 copies in its first week.[316] The album combines nu metal with dubstep.[317] Both Phoenix New Times and LA Weekly cited The Path of Totality as a new direction for nu metal.[318][319] The album won a Revolver Golden God award for "album of the year".[320] In 2012, Papa Roach released their album The Connection. While mostly featuring elements of hard rock,[321] the album also shows the band returning to the nu metal and rap rock style.[321][322]

Of Mice & Men incorporated elements of nu metal and metalcore on their album Restoring Force.[323][324][325]

Nu metal-influenced metalcore and deathcore bands such as Emmure,[326][327][328] Here Comes the Kraken,[329] Suicide Silence,[329][330] Of Mice & Men[323][324][325] and Issues[331][332] all either gained moderate popularity or an underground following in the 2010s. Suicide Silence's 2011 album The Black Crown, which features elements of nu metal and deathcore,[329] peaked at number 28 on the Billboard 200.[333][334] In 2014, Issues' self-titled debut album peaked at number 9 on the same chart.[335] The album features elements of hip hop, metalcore, nu metal, pop and R&B.[336][337] In September 2013, My Ticket Home released an album called Strangers Only, which features elements of nu metal and shows the band moving away from their former metalcore sound.[338] Of Mice & Men's 2014 album Restoring Force, which features elements of nu metal,[324] peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200.[339]

In 2014, Linkin Park released their sixth studio album The Hunting Party. The album shows the band returning to the nu metal genre.[340] The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart behind Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence and Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour, with first-week sales of 110,000 copies in the United States.[341] Linkin Park's song "Until It's Gone" was nominated for the Best Rock Video category on the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards,[342] but lost to the singer Lorde's song "Royals".[343] Also, MTV offered fans a chance to meet the band.[344] In 2014, Islander released their debut album Violence & Destruction. Critics noted the nu metal sound of the album[345][346] and compared it to the nu metal bands P.O.D. and Deftones.[347][348][349] That same year, Slipknot released .5: The Gray Chapter, which featured a return to their nu metal roots while retaining elements of their newer material.[350] It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with 132,000 copies sold.[351] In 2015, Papa Roach released their album F.E.A.R., which features rapping.[352][353] That same year, Coal Chamber released Rivals, their first studio album since 2002's Dark Days. Many critics noted the nu metal sound of the album.[354][355][356][357] In one review of Rivals, 100% Rock Magazine wrote that Coal Chamber have taken early 2000's style nu metal and "modernized the sound for the current day."[357] Bring Me the Horizon, previously known for a much heavier style of music, released their fifth album That's the Spirit, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200, in 2015.[358] The album draws from multiple genres, including nu metal, and shows the band completely abandoning their metalcore style.[359][360]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Despite its popularity, nu metal has often been criticized by fans of many other heavy metal subgenres,[56][57] often being labeled with derogatory terms such as "mallcore" and "whinecore".[20] Gregory Heaney of Allmusic described the genre as "one of metal's more unfortunate pushes into the mainstream."[361] Lucy Jones of NME called nu metal "the worst genre of all time".[64] In Metal: The Definitive Guide : Heavy, NWOBH, Progressive, Thrash, Death ..., Garry Sharpe-Young described nu metal as "a dumbed-down and—thankfully shortlived exercise".[362] When Machine Head moved to nu metal with their album The Burning Red and their vocalist Robb Flynn spiked his hair in the fashion of many nu metal musicians, the band were accused of selling out and many fans criticized their change of appearance and musical style.[141][363] Machine Head's drummer Dave McClain said, "Pissing people off isn't a bad thing, you know? For people to be narrow-minded is bad ... [i]t doesn't bother us at all, we know we're going to piss people off with this record, but some people hopefully will actually sit down and listen to the whole record".[141] Robb Flynn, Machine Head's vocalist, said "There's a minute and a half of rapping on that album. The other 53 minutes of the record are like a giant scar being ripped open while I projectile-vomit through it. If all that people got out of [The Burning Red] was rap-metal, then they didn't fucking listen to it."[141]

Jonathan Davis, the vocalist of Korn, spoke about the criticism of nu metal from heavy metal fans, saying "There's a lot of closed-minded metal purists that would hate something because it's not true to metal or whatever, but Korn has never been a metal band, dude. We're not a metal band. We've always been looked at as what they called the nu-metal thing. But we've always been the black sheep and we never fitted into that kind of thing so ... We're always ever evolving, and we always piss fans off and we're gaining other fans and it is how it is."[364] Lamb of God's vocalist Randy Blythe criticized the nu metal genre and spoke about its loss of popularity in 2004 saying, "Nu-metal sucks, so that's why that's dying off. And I think ... ... people are ready for angrier music. I think people are ready for something that's real, not, you know, 'I did it all for the Nookie.'"[365] Dave Mustaine of the heavy metal band Megadeth said he would "rather have his eyelids pulled out" than listen to nu metal.[366] FasterLouder called nu metal "music's most hated genre" and said that nu metal's "not as bad as people think".[367] Despite the large amount of criticism that nu metal received, The Michigan Daily defended it, saying "Unfortunately, some barriers prevent listeners from understanding nu-metal bands apart from the identity that genre label has given them—picture a bone-headed suburban white kid sporting a backwards baseball cap. What used to be a descriptor for a specific strain of alternative metal turned into a ghetto for every band that a) plays extremely heavy yet radio-friendly music and b) sucks. Because the genre came to be defined by its lack of quality, many 'serious' music fans have missed out on what it has to offer."[28]

"Nu-metal makes my stomach turn. Don't blame that poo poo on us, blame it on their mothers! Do you think I listen to any of that stuff at all? No, it's for 13-year-old morons! Believe me, we'll all be laughing about nu-metal in a couple of years. Heck, I'm actually laughing at it now!"

Mike Patton criticizing nu metal in 2002.[73]

Some musicians who influenced nu metal have tried to distance themselves from the subgenre and its bands. Mike Patton, the vocalist of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, tried to distance himself from the subgenre and criticized it, even though he is featured on the song "Lookaway" on heavy metal band Sepultura's album Roots, which also features Jonathan Davis.[368] Patton said of his music's influence on nu metal, "I feel no responsibility for that, it's their mothers' fault, not mine".[369] Helmet member Page Hamilton said, "It's frustrating that people write [us] off because we're affiliated with or credited with or discredited with creating nu-metal and rap metal ... which we sound nothing like".[370] Page Hamilton appeared on the song "All for Nothing" on Linkin Park's album The Hunting Party.[371]

While Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has said he knows some Korn members and that he thinks they are "cool guys",[372] he also criticized nu metal, saying:

"When I'm asked what do I think of a lot of the nu-metal bands that are out there, my response is that it seems really insincere to me. 'I've had a really shitty childhood and I'm really upset and I'm really ugly and I've put a lot of make-up on and I'm harder and faster and my voice sounds more like the cookie monster's than yours does'. To me it all comes across as being comical, as being a parody of itself."[373]

In response to reports that Fred Durst, lead singer of Limp Bizkit, is a big fan of Tool, the latter's vocalist Maynard James Keenan said, "If the lunch-lady in high school hits on you, you appreciate the compliment, but you’re not really gonna start dating the lunch-lady, are ya?"[92]

While Durst has cited Rage Against the Machine as a major influence,[374][375] Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine is open about hating Limp Bizkit's music. At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Limp Bizkit won the Best Rock Video category for their song "Break Stuff", beating Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire".[375] When Limp Bizkit accepted their award, Commerford went on stage and climbed 20 ft (6.1 m) up a backdrop, rocking back and forth.[375][376] After the incident, Commerford was arrested and spent a night in jail.[375][377] Tim Commerford called Limp Bizkit "one of the dumbest bands in the history of music".[377] Commerford said, "I do apologize for Limp Bizkit. I really do. I feel really bad that we inspired such bullshit ... They’re gone, though. That’s the beautiful thing."[374][375]

Rejection of nu metal label[edit]

Some nu metal musicians have rejected the label nu metal and have tried to distance themselves from it. Slipknot prefer to distance themselves from other nu metal groups, describing their own music as "metal metal" and equate their link to nu metal as a coincidence of their time of emergence.[378]

Jonathan Davis has rejected the nu metal label, saying "We're not 'rap rock,' we're not 'nu-metal ... We might have invented a new genre of heavy music or rock, but I believe the term 'nu-metal' was made up for all the bands that followed us. Those guys to me are nu-metal. And we're just Korn."[36] In 2014, Davis spoke about the nu metal label saying

"I’ve always rejected [Korn's pigeonholing] into some kind of genre that we helped create. It seems like when a band comes out and we do something new and something different, that’s all great. When a whole bunch of bands jump on the bandwagon and start copying what that one band did, then it gets called something and those bands are cheap knockoffs of what the original thing was. So, to me, that’s why I never liked the ‘nu metal’ term."[379]

Staind's vocalist Aaron Lewis rejected the nu metal label saying, "if we get called a 'Nu Metal' band one more time, I don't even know what I'm going to do! ... We've never been a nu metal band. We never had a DJ. We never had any sort of rap element mixed in. We never fit that bill. I don't want to say it was guilt by association because we were very happy to be associated with some of the bands in that genre."[380]

Chino Moreno, vocalist of Deftones, rejected the nu metal label saying "We told motherfuckers not to lump us in with nu metal because when those bands go down we aren't going to be with them".[381] As Deftones abandoned the nu metal sound of their early work, Moreno tried to distance himself from nu metal bands and began to criticize the bands and their albums, including Korn's 2002 album Untouchables; he said, "As Korn go on, it's the same things—bad childhoods and mean moms. It gets too old after a while. How old is Jonathan [Davis]? Thirty? How long has it been since he lived with his parents?"[382][383] Davis responded saying, "Obviously, Chino hasn't listened to the words on the rest of my albums because they're nothing about my parents or my childhood."[383] Moreno also said, "A big problem for me was opening for Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, two bands that wouldn't exist if it weren't for me, straight up!".[382]

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park spoke about the nu metal label in an interview with NME saying "We never held the flag for nu-metal—it was associated with frat rock. Arrogant, misogynistic, and full of testosterone; we were reacting against that."[384][385]

Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit said he "never liked the term "nu metal" in any way and said he doesn't understand how so many bands that sound nothing alike can be put into" the nu metal genre.[386]

Despite the fact that multiple nu metal musicians rejected the nu metal label, Limp Bizkit's vocalist Fred Durst defended it, saying "Nu metal let people open up and it meant something to people. It really did."[387] Coal Chamber's vocalist Dez Fafara also defended nu metal. He said he is proud to be associated with the subgenre[14] and that nu metal bands "broke new musical ground" saying, "I think 'hair metal' was cheesy. [But] I think 'nu metal' was different. I think what's beautiful about 'nu metal' is it's different. And you've got so many different influences."[388]

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park said he accepts the label, saying "I think for the first time in our history, we’re actually OK with being recognized as a nu metal band, especially for what we did early in our careers, because the truth is that when we were first doing it, nobody else really was, especially in terms of the hip-hop thing."[389]

Rejection of heavy metal label[edit]

In addition to criticizing nu metal, many fans of heavy metal music have rejected nu metal as a legitimate subgenre of heavy metal, saying it is not "true heavy metal".[390][391] In a Metal Underground article, writer Mike Smith wrote, "After Korn’s 'Follow the Leader' blew the whole movement into orbit in 1998, nu-metal produced some ridiculous bands, to be sure. And to be fair, plenty of them dwelled in the realms of corny rap-rock and dull alternative radio rock with the occasional heavy riff or tendency to scream, making their designation as 'metal' quite dubious indeed ... [b]ut the movement also produced plenty of heavier bands with primarily metal influences".[390] Sepultura's vocalist Derrick Green said, "I don't know if I would say Korn is metal".[392]

Some nu metal musicians have tried to distance themselves from the "heavy metal" label. For example, Korn's Jonathan Davis rejected the "heavy metal" label.[364][393][394] When talking with Vice, Davis spoke about Korn being called a heavy metal band saying, "I never thought of us to be metal to begin with. Yeah, we’re heavy and downtuned, but metal, to me, is like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. That’s metal, man. I always thought of us as a funk band. That funky, groovy shit."[393]

Godsmack's vocalist Sully Erna also rejected the "heavy metal" label and said he views Godsmack as a hard rock band.[395][396] In an interview, Linkin Park's vocalist Chester Bennington said "I don't think we're a metal band" and also said:

"[We] wanted to make clear from the very beginning when we were kind of tagged as a 'nu metal' band. Not that we have anything against metal ... [w]e aren't just one thing. So there are elements of the band that are metal, there are elements of the band that are pop, there are elements that are electronic, and hip-hop as well. And we've kind of always felt like we weren't bound to just one genre. So after we made 'Hybrid Theory' and 'Meteora', we really wanted to take risks beyond what we had already done on those first two records, creatively, and show the world that we can do a lot more than just make nu-metal songs."[397]

However, some nu metal bands do consider their music "heavy metal". Shortly after releasing their debut album Spit, Kittie's drummer Mercedes Lander said her band wanted to be recognized as simply a "metal band" rather than as a "girl metal band".[398] Before 2004, Slipknot described their sound as "metal metal".[378] John Connolly, a member of the nu metal band Sevendust, described their music as "some kind of heavy, some kind of rock and some kind of metal".[399]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]